From Campus to Coalface
Taking translation from an academic environment to the forefront of literature
From theory to practice, researchers at the University of Warwick have transformed the literary translation sector in the UK. Through the Warwick Writing Programme new translations of important international literature have been produced which have diversified the publishing industry and raised the profile of non-English speaking authors. In addition to bringing international work to new audiences, the Warwick Writing Programme also equips new translators with the skills that they need to thrive in the industry, while giving a platform to contemporary international societal issues.
Sales of translated literature have almost doubled in recent years, even as English language sales have decreased. The Warwick Writing Programme supports literary translation through its world-leading research into the theory and practice of translation. It brings new voices to English-speaking readers and supports writers around the world. Its research also influences the teaching of future translators, shoring up the future of this sector of the publishing industry.
Key work by the University of Warwick’s translators include:
The first ever history of Translation Studies as an academic discipline
Breaking free of national boundaries to give voice to exiles and displaced persons’ stories (often told in their second or third language)
Translating literature from rarely studied languages, such as Turkish
The creation of The Warwick Prize for Women in Translation. Founded in 2017, this annual award addresses the gender imbalance in translated literature and encourages publishers to commission more translations of titles written by women
As well as educating trainee translators in the processes of translation, the Warwick team have also helped many to understand the role of the translator in far greater depth. Their research into the theory of translation has examined the status and position of the translator.
The University of Warwick has used its expertise in literary translation to teach and mentor future translators. The rigorous training and skills development provided by Warwick ensures the quality of publications within the industry remain high. ‘Literary Translation’, by Warwick researcher Chantal Wright, is considered an essential handbook for those who would like to learn about the practice of translating literature. Wright also led the creation of the Warwick Prize for Women in Translation in 2017, which recognises and encourages the translation of works by female writers, who are underrepresented in the UK market.
The Warwick Writing Programme has played a significant role in championing marginalised voices through its published translations, but also through its portfolio of experts, many of whom span academic and professional industry roles. One such person is Professor Maureen Freely who was president of English PEN from 2014-2018, an organisation which advocates for freedom of expression internationally. Freely’s work translating Turkish authors, such as Orhan Pamuk, has brought such stories to a new audience. Thanks to the efforts of the translators, the voices of protest worldwide have reached more people than ever before.